Managing Client Expectations
While we wish every project could be a success, the simple fact is that they won’t. Random chance, internal squabbles, political pressures, and external factors all contribute to the complexity of the work environment and prevent ideal outcomes.
Understanding the risks of a project is just as important as understanding its costs, rewards, deadlines, or any other basic quality. In the long run, businesses can survive and thrive pursuing projects that could possibly fail but may be groundbreaking if they succeed. Explaining this to clients helps ground their expectations in reality. Consultants that understand the importance of managing client expectations surely have great client hands.
On any project, you should keep in mind the following:
Define Your Goals
Working for your client requires working with your client. Talk to them about what they expect from you and what they understand about the nature of the work. You’ll have to manage not just the project, but also your client’s expectations if want they want is unattainable. Treating your client as a fellow stakeholder will enable you to act within your means to provide the best possible solution.
Justify Your Performance
After setting up the framework for your project, you will need to maintain a high level of trust with your client. Defining your goals will help set you along the path to completing the project, but snags that happen along the way must be accounted for. Own up to your mistakes and identify the sources of any trouble you find along the way. While you don’t have to beat yourself up for just any error, take accountability for your actions. If you can justify your performance each step of the way and strive for meaningful results, you’ll impress your client and build a healthy connection.
Address Clients Expectations
When all else is said and done, the consultant still has the job of demonstrating the value of her work. If you’ve followed the two previous suggestions you should have a good account of what was expected and what was delivered, now you just need to make them match up. Don’t deceive yourself or your client, but do try your best to make the clearest possible connection between the work that needed to be done and what you did.
Conduct Progress Reviews Regularly
While you are working on the project, be sure to always have ways to measure results. Constantly monitor and assess client’s progress, this should enable you to foresee problems early on. Communicating with your clients those identified issues will help you towards building trust with your clients and will readjust everybody’s expectations as the project develops.
Should I be a Facilitator?
Although I’ve not described the context for these statements fully, these types of statements make me cringe. Why? Because people who say these things often presume that consultants start dispensing advice without understanding and gathering an inventory of a client’s situation.
How to Make Project Closure and Client-Consultant Transitions Smooth
Eventually projects with consultants come to an end. Similar to completion of a good run as an employee of a firm, feelings at the end of a consulting project can be bittersweet. For me, the sweetness of successfully completing a project feels great, while the end of the day-to-day, close working relationship with the client can make one reflect for a moment longer.